The influential French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique have given three prospective British & Irish Lions a New Year's boost by including them in their 2008 Dream XV.
Welsh Grand Slam backs Lee Byrne and Shane Williams figure among the threequarters, while Scottish scrum half Mike Blair wins the nod for the No 9 jersey. The 2007 XV included only one player from the four Home Unions, England and Sale Sharks prop Andrew Sheridan.
There are only two Springboks in the side - centre Jean de Villiers and hooker Bismarck du Plessis - while the form team of 2008, the All Blacks, provide four players. Dan Carter, now playing in France with Perpignan, is the only New Zealander behind the scrum, but Richie McCaw, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock feature in the forwards.
There are three Australians, spearheaded by skipper Stirling Mortlock, two Frenchmen and one Italian, IRB Player of the Year nominee Sergio Parisse. The 2007 side included eight players from the World Cup winning Springbok side.
Midi Olympique Team of 2008
Lee Byrne (Wales); Lote Tuquiri (Australia), Stirling Mortlock (Australia), Jean de Villiers (South Africa), Shane Williams (Wales); Dan Carter (New Zealand), Mike Blair (Scotland); Tony Woodcock (New Zealand), Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), Nicolas Mas (France), James Horwill (Australia), Ali Williams (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), Richie McCaw (New Zealand), Sergio Parisse (Italy).
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.